“The loan will be granted when the department is confident USEC has corrected its concerns and is on the right track for success of the plant,” U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, said Wednesday.
Brown and Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland met earlier Wednesday with U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu to discuss efforts to create jobs and economic opportunity in Ohio, including the pending loan guarantee to advance USEC’s American Centrifuge Plant.
“We talked with the secretary at some length and DOE continues to be very interested in the centrifuge plant there. They want USEC to be successful,” Brown said. “They are monitoring the progress all the time. Soon, possibly as early as next week, the assistant secretary will be coming to Piketon.”
Brown said there will be “no hesitancy’’ in providing the loan guarantee for the ACP “once the testing is complete and to the satisfaction of DOE.”
He said some of the concerns he had with USEC several years ago have gone away now.
“They have good ethical leadership now. John Welch (president CEO of USEC) and his people are working hard and they are meeting the challenges,” Brown said.
The senator said he thanked Chu for awarding a $2 billion contract over 10 years for cleanup at the Piketon site where the Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant operated from 1954 to 2001.
Fluor-B&W Portsmouth LLC is the prime contractor for the decontamination and decommissioning work set to begin at the end of this year, with a prospect of creating 350 to 500 new jobs over the next five years.
“Then there is the new fuel reprocessing facility that just started up at Piketon,” Brown said. “It will provide hundreds of jobs that will last over the next 18 years. And it could last much longer as more of this waste fuel byproduct becomes available.
“Now, if Duke and AREVA are successful in pursuing a nuclear facility there, and we see the centrifuge plant go into operation, there will be additional billions and billions of dollars spent there, providing many, many years of good-paying jobs.”
G. SAM PIATT can be reached at (740) 353-3101, ext. 236.